Musical Humors and Lamentations
Full track listing below review
L'Art du Bois (Verena Fütterer, Margret Görner (recorder),
Lena Hanisch (recorder, transverse flute), Judith Sartor (viola
da gamba), Maria Ferré (lute, theorbo, guitar), Mirko Arnone (lute,
rec. 6, 17 May 2009, Matthias-Claudius Kapelle, Freiburg-Günterstal,
ET'CETERA KTC 1418 [59:32]
L'Art du Bois is a German ensemble founded in 2004. Between
2006 and 2009 they were been prize winners in several music
competitions in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. They also
made appearances in various festivals and concert series. Listening
to this disc it is easy to understand why they have enjoyed
such success so soon. Their playing is technically assured and
lively; never a dull moment. That said, an ensemble with recorders
always has to deal with a lack of repertoire. For that reason
they often adapt music which was originally written for other
instruments. That is also the case here. Sometimes it works;
sometimes it doesn't.
The problem with this disc is that the documentation is rather
poor. There is no indication of the scoring of the various pieces
in the programme nor of the scoring which the composer had in
mind. I wasn't always able to identify the pieces or
to find what the original scoring was. Because of that it is
hard to establish in what way the ensemble has arranged the
compositions they chose to record.
The programme begins with two pieces by Anthony Holborne. These
belong to the category of consort music which was particularly
popular in England in the decades around 1600. There is no objection
to playing them on recorders, but I really don't understand
why any percussion should be added as it is here. We then hear
a piece by one of the lesser-known masters of the English renaissance:
Thomas Robinson, who was a lute and cittern player. In 1603
he published a lute method, The schoole of musicke,
from which Passamezzo Galyard is taken. It is played
here with two lutes - is this the original scoring? The liner-notes
don't tell us.
As this disc aims to give some idea about the versatility of
English music in the 17th century Tobias Hume has to be included.
As he was a gambist his music is dominated by this instrument.
That makes a performance with recorders rather odd, and even
more so the addition of percussion, as in Fain would I change
this note. It is one of those pieces where the arrangement
doesn't really work. Thomas Simpson is another little-known
composer who seldom appears in concert programmes. His Recercar
is played with recorders, viol and lute. One could ask why his
music is included, as all his extant compositions date from
the time he worked abroad, mainly in Germany.
That is even more the case with Jacob van Eyck, the blind Dutch
recorder player and carillonneur, who never left his country
and only composed music for recorder solo. Here again the scoring
is rather unfortunate. The variations on Doen Daphne d'over
schoone Maeght - here referred to with the English title
When Daphne from fair Phoebus did fly - are performed
with recorders, viol, lute and percussion. That is a bit overdone
for music which was conceived for just one recorder. His variations
on Pavaen Lachrymae may be based on Dowland's
Lachrymae antiquae, as the track-list says. That in
itself is no reason to play them on the viola da gamba. Over
the years I have heard various performances of Van Eyck's
music on other instruments than the recorder, and they have
seldom been convincing.
The masque dances come off well. They belong to a category of
pieces which were written for the masque, a popular form of
entertainment which included music and poetry. Here percussion
would probably be most suitable, but is not used.
For the second half of the programme we move to the baroque
era, with Christopher Simpson - not related to the before-mentioned
Thomas - Henry Purcell, John Blow, Francesco Corbetta and Nicola
Matteis. The latter two were foreigners and early immigrants
whose example would be followed by many other composers from
the continent from the late 17th century onward. Matteis surprised
his audiences with his virtuosic playing of the violin, and
nearly all his music is written for his own instrument. Corbetta
was a guitar player who worked at the court of Louis XIV before
moving to England. La Sarabande is one of his guitar
pieces, for some reasons played here with recorder, guitar and
theorbo, with the viola da gamba playing pizzicato. The reasoning
behind this is a mystery to me; the lamento character of this
piece would come off better with just a guitar.
I couldn't identify the sonata by Blow. The work-list
in New Grove mentions just one sonata in A. The Sonata
in G is performed with recorder and transverse flute. It
is very well executed, and so are the two pieces by Henry Purcell,
which belong to the most famous compositions from his oeuvre.
As one may gather from this review I am in two minds about this
disc. I have nothing but admiration for the playing of the members
of L'Art du Bois, and I hope to hear more from them.
I am not that happy with some of the arrangements they have
made, which seem to me partly unnecessary and partly musically
unsatisfying. It is understandable that an ensemble with this
line-up would look into the music of the English renaissance.
There is certainly much to find for them to play without any
need for arrangements. That said, if you like this kind of music
and you are less fussy than me, this is the disc for you.
Johan van Veen
Full track listing Anthony HOLBORNE(1545-1602) Almain [1:02] Coranto The Wanton [1:22] Thomas ROBINSON(c.1560-after
1609) Passamezzo Galyard [1:54] Tobias HUME(1569-1645) Fain would I change this note [1:40] Touch me lightly [2:18] What greater griefe [2:03] Thomas SIMPSON(1582-1628) Recercar [2:57] Jacob VAN EYCK(c.1589-1657) Variations on When Daphne from fair Phoebus did fly
[3:42] Variations on Lachrimae Antiquae by John Dowland [2:08] John DOWLAND(1563-1626) My Lord Willoughby's Welcome Home [2:18]
[Masque Dances] Richard NICHOLSON(1563-1639) Jews Dance [2:33] anon Cuperaree or Grays Inn [2:14] The Apes Dance at the Temple [2:40] Tarletons Jig [1:47] Christopher SIMPSON(1602/06-1669) Divisions for treble viol, bass viol and keyboard III
[3:24] Divisions for treble viol, bass viol and keyboard II
[1:30] Henry PURCELL(1659-1695) Three parts upon a ground (Z 731) [5:08] John BLOW(1649-1708) Sonata No. 3 in G [4:48] Nicola MATTEIS(1674-1714) Divisions [4:13] Francesco CORBETTA(1615-1681) Prélude [1:33] La Sarabande, Tombeau sur la mort de Madame d'Orléans
[3:32] Henry PURCELL
Dioclesian (Z 627): Chaconne Two in one upon a ground [3:03]
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